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Six Feet Under: A Coat of White Primer

Brenda: "You're just bitter because you had to get pregnant to get Nate to marry you."
Lisa: "I'm bitter? Who's drunk and yelling at a dead woman?"

This one began with a wedding and ended with a wedding. Both Nate's. Both essentially tragic, too. The title was about whitewashing over your problems instead of fixing them. Symbolically, the "coat of white primer" was Brenda's wedding dress, covering the death going on inside of her.

That fight Brenda had with Lisa (i.e., herself) was revealing. Brenda believed that she had lost her baby as well as her dream wedding because she was being punished for her infidelities. She didn't think Nate really wanted her, and she kept deliberately acting out, and pushing him away. Nate was supportive and together until the end, when he finally burst into tears.

So much for the Wedding of Death. Let's move on to mental illness. Ruth did indeed commit George, who had a long history of depressive psychosis that she didn't know about, and he was like a shadow of his former self. All this was not what Ruth signed on for; she looked terrible and apparently felt worse. And being Ruth, she expressed her anger not at George, but at Claire. Who was dating Mister Mental Illness himself.

Claire and Billy had a revealing conversation about Billy and Brenda ending up with a second set of siblings. Not a coincidence. The subtly wrong way Billy was acting made it obvious that he was using Claire to take revenge on the man who had taken Brenda away from him. Nate, understandably, still saw Billy as a bomb waiting to go off. I think Claire was starting to get that. Let's hope she doesn't move in with him just to get away from Ruth.

Moving on to our sane, well-adjusted couple. David and Keith were the ones who should have gotten married, since they're already married in all the ways that count. They really wanted kids, but couldn't agree on how; all those volatile couples, and it was David and Keith arguing at the dinner table. I could swear Keith was looking at Claire as if he envied her free range eggs. Maybe he was fantasizing about her having a baby for them. That would be perfect for everyone but Claire, I guess.

This was an episode about weddings and death. I see David and Keith together forever, I really do, and always pretty much did. I think this episode told us that there won't be a happily ever after for Nate and Brenda. Didn't look good for Ruth and George, either. And forget about Claire and Billy.


— In an episode featuring mental illness, Opening Death Andrea reached a breakthrough in therapy and expressed her true feelings to everyone in her life. And it killed her. I thought it was particularly telling that her boyfriend knocked her across the room onto an andiron she never wanted in the first place, and then he actually said, "Andrea, don't do this to me." Invisible and unacknowledged even in death.

— I think the white sea bird eating the wedding cake represented Lisa, who wasn't wanted at the wedding but still showed up to ruin things. White birds usually symbolize peace and love, but not this time.

— All three Fisher sibs sat together on the porch and got high, excluding their significant others. That felt odd, like they were closing ranks.

— Hallucination blue dress woman was smoldering after George's shock therapy. I thought that was funny.

— While Nate and Brenda talked about canceling the wedding because of her miscarriage, there was a documentary about someone in history whose flesh was rotting. And when Brenda was vomiting, Lisa was talking with her killer on video.

— Gorgeous place to get married. That was the place with the horseshit, though, wasn't it? And wasn't Bern's funeral there, too?

And pieces:

— "Andrea Kuhn, 1963-2004."

— Justina Machado (Vanessa) was added to the cast. And the opening credits included some extra musical passages.

— When the episode started with video of Nate getting married, I of course assumed it was to Brenda. It actually gave me a shudder when I realized whose wedding it was.

— Loved Brenda's wedding dress. Lisa's, not so much.

— Rico was actively dating, but couldn't find anyone who measured up to Vanessa. He even parroted what Vanessa had said to his latest date.

— Ruth advised Rico not to be blinded by lust. That made me laugh out loud. I also thought it was funny that everyone had moved out of the Fisher house except Rico.

— Loved David and Keith dancing together at the wedding. They've come a long way. Especially David. When the series started, he never would have danced with Keith at a wedding.

— In this season premiere hair report, Brenda's was longer, Nate's was shorter, and Margaret went blond. And Lauren Ambrose was, for the second season in a row, noticeably thinner.


David: "This pin's defective. It won't prick."
Claire: "Looks like Nate may have to get married without a prick."

Carol: "I love how weddings erase the past, like a coat of white primer. Slap a veil on her and the biggest slutbag on the planet becomes a fresh-faced ingenue." That was a nasty thing to say at Lisa's wedding. It sort of applied to Brenda's vision of herself.

David: "That's what happens to couples who never learn how to fight."

Nate: "I could almost deal with the guy if he wasn't fucking my little sister."
David: "He's better than Gabe. Come on, he was a drug-crazed killer."
Keith: "He didn't kill the guy. He just shot at him."
David: "She should have just stayed with her nice gay boyfriend."

Rico: "The banker was too shiny."
Ruth: "You know, it may have just been an unfortunate lotion."

Margaret: "Honey, you don't have to worry about everything going right any more. That boat has sailed."

Margaret: "More women have miscarried than have masturbated with a dildo. They just don't talk about it." Margaret was being kind, in her own inimitable way. I think it's true, too.

Billy: "I'm happy we're both in healthy relationships."
Claire: "With siblings. It's funny how you both ended up with another set of siblings."

Brenda: "It's so perfect. The only way that I get to get married in a long white gown is to have my dead baby leaking out of me all day."

Four stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. This is my favorite episode of what used to be my favorite show (it is still in second place, supplanted only by "Breaking Bad"). Great review!

  2. The scene in the wedding video that briefly showed Lisa and Hoyt having a tense conversation made me shudder. I found it interesting that this was pretty much the moment that Brenda ran from the room to go and throw up as well.

  3. Where is Brenda's and Nate's wedding location taking place

  4. I've been trying to find out where this is located and it's an impossible google search...does anyone know?

  5. The show was filmed in Los Angeles. It's probably Malibu. No idea where.


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